Assault & Battery:  What Is The Difference?

Often times the charge of assault and crime of battery are confused. Each crime involves either actual physical contact or perceived physical harm. Each crime can be either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on what the common law states.

What are the differences between Assault & Battery?

Any threat made from one person to another is assault. There is no physical harm required is to be charged with assault. Example: Suppose someone walks up to you and states that he or she is going to beat you until you beg for your last breath. That is assault. Battery requires the actual act of physically harming someone without consent. Example: Suppose someone walks up to you and without saying a word, punches you in the face. That is battery without assault. Usually when one is charged with assault and battery, there is an initial threat made before physical harm is presented without someone’s consent to do so.

The elements of battery are (1) an act (2) done for the purpose of causing an harmful or offensive contact with another person or under circumstances that make such contact substantially certain to occur (3) which causes contact.

Assault can be looked at in two different ways. People think that the only way to assault someone is to verbally threaten them, which is a huge myth. For instance, if you throw an object at someone and it misses him or her, then that is assault. There was no physical harm done, but the threat of hitting him or her makes it assault. Now, if the object that was thrown actually hit the person, that would be battery because unconsented, physical harm happened.

Both assault and battery can be tried as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the seriousness and amount of damage caused to the receiving individual. An assault charge is difficult to get a conviction on because threats are hard to prove. Assault can rarely stand by itself without an accompanying battery charge. Battery on the other hand is easier to prove than assault because there is usually physical evidence of harm done to someone, whether it be a bruise, lesion, open wound, gun shot wound, etc. A battery charge can stand alone in a court of law without assault needed as an accompanying charge.

What is the punishment for Assault?

Simple assault is a misdemeanor charge in Georgia. You could be facing this charge if you attempted to commit a violent act against someone. You could also be facing this charge if you put them in a harmful situation. This charge is usually followed up with the sentencing of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. A misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature could entail one year in prison and a $5,000 fine. This is an act that is committed using a firearm, public transportation, the elderly, a woman who is pregnant or directed towards a public school.

Aggravated assault is a felony charge, but is still not considered battery because there is not any physical contact involved. The sentence range could result (with aggravated assault )one to twenty years (1-20) in prison depending of the seriousness and the damage of the violation. If the intent of aggravated assault was rape, murder, robbery, the crime would now be aggravated assault. If a weapon (such as a gun, knife, or large object) was involved or something that could be considered a dangerous object, the charge would be aggravated assault.

What is the punishment for Battery?

Battery, as previously mentioned, is the intentional touching someone without his or her consent. Simple battery is a misdemeanor crime that can put someone in jail for one year and/or $1,000 fine. Just like simple assault, simple battery can be escalated to misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature. The punishment is the same, one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

When battery is charged as a felony, this is the most serious of assault and battery crimes. The sentencing can carry one to twenty years in prison. This is the charge that would be given if it is believed that the assault was intended to be malicious and cause serious bodily harm to an individual like disfiguring them, causing a part of their body to be useless (e.g., paralysis) or depriving them the use of a part of their body. Depending on who the victim is and where the assault was committed can effect the sentencing of the crime. For example, if you commit aggravated assault against a police officer, a pregnant woman, or an elderly person, you could be facing ten to twenty years in prison.


Assault and battery are not the same crime. They usually go hand-in-hand and they can be misdemeanor crimes as well as felony crimes. Who the crime is committed against and where the crime is committed depends on the degree of the punishment and the sentences for the misdemeanor and felony charges of each carry about the same weight.